Front Porch Farm is home to many fortunate animals, living the way nature intended. You won’t find cement floors, cramped stalls, or wire cages here. Our cows, pigs, and poultry all live a life of luxury. Today I want to talk about our happy laying hens. Front Porch Farm takes great pride in providing these lucky ladies with a wonderfully nutritious and diverse diet. Our pesticide-free pastures support a bountiful ecosystem of grasses, legumes, seeds, and insects. Starting mid-spring, the hens move through our 15 acres of pasture, following the cow herd, pecking and scratching through the patties left behind. They are supplemented with a blend of carefully selected grains and vitamins, milled and mixed on site. In return, the hens give us eggs, but not just any eggs: the BEST eggs around. In recent years, it has become common knowledge that pasture-raised eggs are superior in quality and nutrition to the standard grocery store egg. Many published studies confirm that they are higher in vitamin A, E, and omega-3s as well as lower in cholesterol and saturated fat. After coming to work at Front Porch Pets two years ago and tasting the amazing eggs there’s just no way I can go back to buying eggs from the store. I eat an egg almost every morning and my HDL (good cholesterol) is through the roof! Healthy pastures means healthy chickens which means healthy people!
Unfortunately there is a perceived downside to having a regenerative farm in Wisconsin: Winter. Anyone who lives here knows it can be downright nasty. By this point it should be no surprise that our precious hens have the best of the best when it comes to winter poultry housing. A huge hoop house with a deep layer of leaves covering the floor captures the sun’s winter rays and keeps the ladies extra cozy. Having no more access to their preferred pasture diet, we, of course, supplement with only the finest. Our greenhouse manager prepares several types of fodder to provide daily fresh greens and I raise mealworms for them. When I read an article about mealworms in the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association newsletter last year I knew our chickens needed these proteinaceous treats. So, much to my office mate’s displeasure, a large set of plastic drawers sits discreetly beside my desk filled with creepy-crawly beetles and worms. I adapted my little farm from youtubers that raise mealworms for their reptile breeding enterprises. It is cheap, low maintenance, and the chickens go absolutely nuts for them! Egg production inevitably slows through the winter months as we prefer not to use artificial light in our hen house in keeping with our “nature knows best” practices. However, the quality of the eggs hardly waivers and our prized hens remain content in their winter fortress.
In addition to sharing the eggs with the fortunate staff at Front Porch Pets and a few farm neighbors, we have recently developed a treat recipe that includes these much desired eggs. Keep an eye out for our active dog performance treats coming soon!